Boston’s Ethnic Community Gardens in the Face of Demographic Change


Program Description:

This presentation draws on photographs, interview data, and GIS maps to compare four distinct ethno-cultural community gardening traditions in Boston – African American, Hispanic, Chinese and Italian gardens – and how these traditions take physical shape on the urban landscape. As well, this presentation highlights how a decline in ethnic populations in some neighborhoods has impacted ethno-cultural gardening traditions and practices. As gardens lose diversity, along with their respective neighborhoods, certain cultural gardening practices and traditions may be disappearing. Meanwhile, new traditions and practices emerge as new gardeners move in.


Charles French

As a Community and Economic Development Specialist for University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Dr. French provides municipalities with planning assistance in the areas of land use, recreation, tourism , civic agriculture, community development, and economic development. From 1999 - 2001, he was an Economic Development Educator for the University of Illinois Extension and from 1995 - 1997 he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Panama, where he taught conservation and sustainable agriculture techniques to school-age youth and to subsistence farmers. He brings his applied experience into the classroom as a faculty member in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, where he teaches courses in community and environmental planning.

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